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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So I decided to start playing with Opera. Here’s the scorecard.

Pros

  • Fast. Very fast. In terms of UI, rendering, and content fetching, it’s speedy. I like that.
  • Rich but usable interface. While there are a lot of nice pop-up features and fluffy addins (top ten links in the address bar was the first that came to mind), they tend to be the more useful variety, and are well thought out in terms of usability and purpose. The default user interface is pleasantly sparse and usable. The contextual functionality that appears throughout the browser is one of the more unique approaches I’ve seen in a long time.
  • Really nice keyboard navigation features. While a lot of the bindinds are different/foreign, I really like just how much I can easily accomplish fromt he keyboard.
  • Keeping closed tabs in a “trash bin” is great. I hate confirm-on-close, but I also hate losing a tab I didn’t actually mean to close. Having a way to recall past browsing easily without digging throug long histories is super-handy.
  • Easy-to-search history, bookmarks, transfers, links, notes … it all works together in braindead fashion. It almost make me want to use a nice integrated one-stop application.
  • Notes. Oh, I have an idea … (drag some content in from the page I’m browsing) … blah blah blah … wow, this is really handy.
  • An actual full-screen mode that works without any fussing. By full-screen, I mean no other crap, scrollbars, menu bars, tab bars, status bars, are on the screen. The bar appears when I need it, and gets out of the way when I no longer want it. This is out every full-screen mode hsould work.
  • Automatic conversion of a framed page into a fit static page. Genius. Pure genius.

Cons

  • Incompatiliby: The net is rife with tales, workarounds, and hacks to try and get opera working with all of the modern magic — gmail, google maps, netflix … pretty much any site with extensive DHTML and JavaScript doesn’t fully work. Now, the interesting bit is that in most cases it really isn’t Opera’s fault so much as oversights by the web developers (there are exceptions), but nearly every “fancy” site in this regard doesn’t work quite right out of the box. Even if it’s not Opera’s fault, it’s still a deal-killer.
  • Too much functionality. I don’t want a chat client or mail client in my browser. That’s what plugins/extensions/separate programs are for. Just a personal pet peeve to be sure, but get rid of it or make it optional. I played with the chat functionality and did not mess with the mail. The former was abysmal. That said, the integration into a sidebar is a nice touch for people that want to spend all day in one application. It would be lovely for emacs goons, I imagine.
  • No firefox extensions. Like Dave said in my original post, if you give it Adblock … life will improve. It’s the only way to browse the web.

The more I think about it, I think it’s the perfect kiosk browser (if kiosk browsers didn’t need to support flash and pretty java crap for library users to play video games all day, that is), in that it features a mess of functionality and handy things to make work of browsing more effective. It’s certainly not going to replace anything I use prime-time, it’s just not good enough yet (ever?) … but I think I can see a purpose for it now.